In the 1980s there were few stars bigger than Mike Tyson. He was an executioner - an unstoppable force of furious nature who could unleash hell on earth inside a squared circle. Throughout the course of his career Tyson had a number of rivals to contend with: Frank Bruno, Donovan Ruddock, Lennox Lewis and of course Evander Holyfield. But of all his foils there is perhaps none more amusing than the rivalry Tyson shared with the legend otherwise known as Mitch "Blood" Green. It all started in early 1986. Tyson was quickly moving up the rankings and was destined to be Heavyweight Champion of the World. A fight was booked for HBO at Madison Square Garden in May of that year between the undefeated Tyson and the better-than-your-average heavyweight prospect in Mitch Green. Nobody expected much from Green, as far as everyone was concerned this was just another fight to serve as part of the ascension of Iron Mike. Not that Mitch was considered a pushover, but Tyson fights were essentially "Tyson shows" in those days. The challengers were insignificant. Mitch probably didn't take very kindly to all of the attention being lavished on Tyson and the lack of it seen on his end, but what really annoyed Green was the realization that Mike would be making $200 grand for the fight opposed to the paltry sum of $33 grand he'd be making. After numerous threats that he'd pull out of the fight Green and Tyson did indeed meet in the ring as scheduled. As for the fight, while not considered a classic, it was more than what most should have expected.
Tyson was never really able to inflict any significant damage on Green, other than famously knocking out one of his gold teeth. The fight would go all ten rounds. Up until Tyson would lose to Buster Douglas in February of 1990 this fight with Mitch Green was considered the toughest fight of Tyson's career. But like the champion he'd eventually become later that year, though it wasn't a knockout win, Tyson perservered and outclassed the inferior Green and convincingly won the fight in a unanimous decision. Outside of a rematch being booked, that might have been the end of the rivalry under normal circumstances. But there is nothing normal about Mitch Green. This rivalry was only getting started - at least in the mind of Mitch Green.
Green's pre-fight threats to pull out of his deal left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. Green had previously dropped out of fights prior to the Tyson fight, in fact. Though he didn't get any more money for the Tyson fight his threats did lead to an agreement which allowed Green to leave Don King promotions (specifically his contract with Don King's stepson). His antics and business tactics deployed against the Kings was the kiss of death to Mitch Green's fight career and any chance at a big pay day. Green would never be involved in a meaningful fight again. It's not hard to understand then that Mitch seemed to harbor a lot of resentment towards Mike Tyson. After all, he was Don King's golden boy and the new "annointed one" according to the mainstream sports press after knocking out Berbick to win the WBC World Title that November. In the two years between the summer of 1986 to the summer of 1988 Tyson was making huge sums of money hand over fist; he had a video game marketed around him, and to top it all off was married to one of the most beautiful television actresses of the day. From mid 1986 to August of 1988 Mitch Green was a forgotten man.
This all came to ahead on August 23, 1988. On that particular summer day Mike and a friend were out doing some shopping at Dapper Dan's Boutique in Harlem. Mitch, desperately needing a pay day and figuring no one was more deserving of a title shot than he, descended down upon Mike in the store trying to secure a verbal agreement for a rematch. The negotiation didn't go so well. What wound up occuring was the most famous street fight in the history of Harlem (though that's probably a debatable point). Casualties in the brawl included a torn shirt belonging to Tyson, a hairline fracture to one of his hands and Mitch Green's face.
Though nothing of significane really ever came as a result of that street fight outside of some beyond ludicrous interviews given by Mitch discussing the brawl to curious members of the press at the time, that didn't mean history was done with Mitch Green. Or, more correctly put: that Mitch Green was done with history. But more than anything, what you get from the number of Green's videotaped interviews we still have is how ridiculous the man was. And by ridiculous I mean hilarious. Though I must warn you, if you have a weak constitution when it comes to homophobic epithets being used liberally I'd advise you not to watch the newscast and "Current Affair" piece detailing the event the day after below.
Mitch Green became very fond of accusing Tyson of being a "homosexual" who is "reluctant to fight" in a derogatory, though highly amusing, fashion. It became his m.o. in his attempt to bait Mike into a rematch following the brawl. But referring to Tyson as a homo was nothing new for Green. Mitch never respected Tyson or the attention he generated. Here is a classic cut of Green dissing Mike in 1986, the year of their sanctioned fight..
You get the idea. But below might be the most dubious interview given by Green in regards to Tyson we have available. Words cannot even begin to describe it ...
How many people reference how someone broke their hand on ones own face as part of their trash talking? Only Mitch Green.
The baiting never worked. There was never a rematch. And as wrong as Green's antics and tactics were, you can't help but enjoy him as a character. Case in point: The clip below of ESPN's Charlie Steiner who attempts to report on a lawsuit Mitch tried to slap against Tyson in 1997 over the 1988 incident. Just prior to Steiner's laughing fit "SportsCenter" had aired a clip of Green discussing what happened that fateful night in Harlem as a justification for the suit as part of their coverage (unfortunately that unforgettable clip of Green speaking doesn't seem to be available anywhere on the interwebs, but Steiner's reaction gives you an idea of how it went). Skip to the 30 second mark.
Mitch "Blood" Green's media persona was pure comedic source-material gold. His antics came across as so ridiculous that his persona constituted more than half of whom Jamie Fox and "In Living Color" were spoofing in the early 1990s with their reoccuring Carl "The Tooth" Williams character, a punch drunk boxer obsessed with rematches and Mike Tyson.
Mitch has been gone out of the public eye now for almost 25 years now. I don't even think anyone really knows what he's doing these days. His last public appearance of any note was on an episode of "The Best Damn Sports Show" which was doing a look back at some of the most outrageous moments in sports.
Since that appearance Green has vanished into the mists of obscurity.
As one YouTube commenter noted: "Mitch Green is the result of an experiment that combined the DNA from James Brown, Rick James and Carl Weathers. When they finally got the experiment right it created Ol' Dirty Bastard." That's pretty astute if you ask me. If O.D.B. were still with us today it would not surprise me one bit to find he was a Mitch Green fan. Though Mitch Green is all but gone, his legend remains. It's a legacy that will live forever, if nowhere else, as a chapter in the saga that was the career of Mike Tyson. And though it might only be a short chapter it will certainly be the most amusing chapter.
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